My re-introduction to WC Fields. I must’ve either seen him on TV when I was eight, or maybe I just know him through cartoon caricatures. He kinda seems like someone whose routine is best appreciated by an eight-year-old, so maybe I should’ve let it rest. A lightly enjoyable short feature with some poor moments (a stupid-talkin’ negro joke comes right after a penny-pinching shylock joke).
All comedies wrongly think they need a handsome young romantic couple in the cast, so comically alcoholic Fields (named SousÃ©, heh) has a daughter (Una Merkel of The Bat Whispers) in love with some dude named Og. He also has a shrew wife and hateful mother-in-law, but more important is his bartender (Shemp Howard).
Fields gives some bad car-repair advice, stumbles into a job directing a film, then pretends to have foiled a bank robbery, earning himself a job as a security guard.
“You talkin’ to me?”
He gets bank clerk Og to steal money to invest in a junk-stock scam, then has to spend the rest of the movie diverting an auditor (rain-thin Sturges regular Franklin Pangborn, the same year he did Christmas In July). One of the bank robbers (named Repulsive Rogan, nice) returns and steals the now-valuable stocks in a second holdup, and Fields actually helps stop him this time, earning the respect of his now-wealthy family.
Pangborn, not feeling so well:
He is a pathetic, bad-tempered figure who curses everyone under his alcohol-scented breathâ€”everyone, that is, save Joe the bartender (played by the positively restrained Shemp Howard, the intellectualâ€™s Stooge) who patiently administers SousÃ©â€™s medicine. . . And in typical Fields fashion, his fortune is not made through honest effort but by luck, circumstance, and beautifully timed accidents, later turned into heroic epics by SousÃ© as he exaggerates his role in each. Here and elsewhere, Fields accurately nails the American tendency to inflate oneâ€™s importance, especially if money and fame are at stake.